Designing Interiors to Mitigate Physical and Cognitive Deficits Related to Aging and to Promote Longevity in Older Adults: A Review

Altaf Engineer, Esther M. Sternberg, Bijan Najafi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background: With the increasing global population of older adults, there is a need for environmental interventions that directly affect their physical, psychological, and emotional well-being to help them maintain or regain their independence and autonomy - all of which promote longevity. Methods: To better understand potential opportunities and challenges associated with interior design and "future homes" that may promote well-being, aging in place, and independent living in older adults, the authors reviewed relevant literature and included their own expert opinions from a multidisciplinary point of view including interior design, wellness, and engineering. Results: After summarizing existing environmental interventions for the aging population and their effectiveness, this review reveals knowledge gaps in interior design for the well-being and longevity of older adults followed by a discussion of opportunities for future research that may fill these gaps. Some of these opportunities include finding habilitative design strategies that identify and address unique situational needs of each user, advancing multidisciplinary fields such as environmental gerontology that recreate security and independence for older adults even outside of their homes, implementing technically advanced design strategies, which are flexible and adaptive to individual needs; and integrating the Internet of things (IoT) into living environments, including voice-activated command technologies to improve seniors' central role in enabling an optimized healthcare ecosystem. Conclusions: Knowledge of current evidence regarding the impact of different environmental factors may hasten adaptation of well-designed innovations that can provide optimal healing and living environments for the aging population. By effectively addressing older adults' unique and specialized needs, design practitioners can become an indispensable part of their medical, social, and environmental team. One of the rapidly developing infrastructures promising to revolutionize the design of "future homes" is the IoT. While it is at an early stage of development, ultimately we envisage a connected home using voice-controlled technology and Bluetooth-radio-connected add-ons, to augment much of what home health does today. Bringing these approaches together into an effective strategy for a model of effective geriatric care is important and needs to become an integral part of both design education and practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)612-622
Number of pages11
Issue number6
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018


  • Aging
  • Daily life
  • Environment
  • Environmental factors
  • Environmental interventions
  • Interior design
  • Longevity
  • Well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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